In the penultimate match of the 2021 season, North Texas Soccer Club hosted the New England Revolution II at Chocktaw Stadium in hopes of securing a playoff position.
In a must win game to keep their playoff hopes alive, North Texas secured a much need 3 points after defeating New England Revolution II, 4-1.
Only one change was made from North Texas’ road win over Fort Lauderdale as Kazu started, on North Texas’ promotional Kazu night, as a replacement for Imanol Almaguer
Justin Rennicks didn’t waste any time and got the early opening goal in the 4th minute.
Eddie Munjoma took it upon himself to bring the score level in the 10th minute.
North Texas’ task would get more diffcult after Mark Salas was shown a red-card in the 26th minute. The resulted in Waldeck moving to left-centerback and Eddie Munjoma to left-back, creating a 4-4-1.
Bernard Kamungo replaced Kazu at halftime as the first substitute of the evening for North Texas.
The Revolution had been award a penalty and converted the attempt but the goal was dissallowed after the ball was double-touched during the kick.
Bernard Kamungo took the swing in momentum to his advantage and scored in the 56th minute.
Gibran Rayo secured the needed 2-goal lead in the 83rd minute after being assisted by Nicky Hernandez.
Kalil ElMedkhar made way for Devin Benton in the 84th minute.
Bernard Kamungo wasn’t done and got his brace in the 89th minute.
Nicky Hernandez was substituted for Rio Ramirez in the 92nd minute.
Gibran Rayo was the final player to make way, coming off for Lucao in the 93rd minute.
North Texas got the imporant home beating the Revolution 4-1.
Thoughts & Takeaways
Eric Quill opted to change the attacking shape by bring in Kazu over a third midfielder, featuring Gibran Rayo and Kalil El Medkhar as the two strikers.
Blaine Ferri and Nicky Hernandez were takes with shielding the backline line as well connecting the defense with the attack. Defensively, North Texas has 7-8 players in front of the ball while attacking with 6 players going forward.
“We didn’t want to mess with our backline since they are playing really well and continuity is everything with a backline,” Coach Quill told 3rd Degree. “With Imanol [Almaguer] hurt, we had to drop Nicky [Hernandez] down a line next to Blaine. We thought this change was a good way to keep some normality and some consistency.”
The change in shape was accompanied with quicker passing and long balls to the wingers to switch the direction of attack. The change in shape appears to have offered more balance with respect to the direction of the attack given the multiple attacking players.
Change in Flow
At the start of the game, North Texas was controling the tempo and flow of the game with constant player movement on and off the ball along with quick passing. The control of the game was changed after North Texas’ red-card.
The Revolution controlled the flow of the game and opted for a more patient style in comparions North Texas’ opening 25 minutes. Whil patient on the build, the Revolution’s passing was thoughtful when going forward, looking to break through North Texas’ lines.
“I thought we got on top of the game before the red-card,” Waldeck explained. “We then had to quell the game before halftime to make adjustments. After half we started to find our groove and rhythm and we really went at them to come away with a game like this.”
Despite being a man down, North Texas were careful in their attempts to go forward while absorbing pressure from the Revolution. North Texas transition into playing a counter attacking style while still trying to create passing combinations.
“Credit to the staff, we pieced together a formation and we talked together as a group at halfime,” Eric Quill said. “We needed to be discipline to come out and sit in a low-block. It’s not fun work, its a grind, but we got the goal and it felt like we were up a man. They [New England] couldn’t get the ball off of us and that speaks to about the kind of players that we have.”
North Texas has been a team that responds after adverse moments in games such as going down a goal, recieving a red-card, and handling unfavorable calls. Needless to say North Texas, once again, responded after the early red-card decision handed to them.
“Big games call for big moments from big players and we had multiple moments of that,” Waldeck said of his team’s performance. “Bernard [Kamungo] coming off the bench and getting two goals and bringing us back to life. Richard Sanchez coming up with big saves and standing on his head and having no business making those crucial saves. We had multiple guys rotate around and roll up their sleeves and to do the dirty work.”
The ability to respond in-game will serve North Texas well in their playoff ambitions where a single momentum can have drastic championship implications.
‘”I’m just proud of these guys for knowing what was at stake,” Quill said excitedly. “I’ve never seen a game turn like that with a man down and go 4-1. I’m going to enjoy this one and I’m really proud coach.”
North Texas Soccer Club has 39 points through 27 games and sits in 5th place. A playoff berth can be secured with a win or a draw, with help around the league, in their last game of the season. North Texas will remain at home for their final game of the season on Saturday, October 30th, at 7:30 PM against Union Omaha.